Weekend Work: Time to water the camellias

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The Independent Online

What to do

In hot, dry weather, remember your camellias, especially if they are growing in pots. Flower buds are being initiated now for next spring's display. Weeds can be brought to heel with a dose of herbicide. Use these only on the calmest of days when there is no danger of spray drifting onto other plants. If you are fighting horsetail, trample it lightly underfoot before spraying. Bruising increases the rate at which the plants absorb the herbicide. Herbaceous geraniums should have been cut back hard by now. They will produce fresh mounds of leaves, which will look rather better than the floppy, weatherbeaten foliage lolling about before. If you are lucky, they may even flower again. Stake the flowers you hope to be enjoying for some time to come. Dahlias, Michaelmas daisies (below), chrysanthemums and heleniums can all do a sudden, catastrophic flop. Continue to water and feed sweet peas to prolong the display. Do not feed annuals such as nasturtium and godetia which, given such encouragement, produce too much leaf and too little flower. Plant prepared hyacinths now to flower at Christmas. Research by the Dutch Bulbgrowers' Association has shown that different varieties have very precise forcing times. The white variety 'Carnegie' needs 11 weeks in a plunge bed or dark cupboard, then 22 days in the light to bring it into flower.

What to buy

Allotment sites provide irresistible opportunities for photographers: the sheds, the seats, the lashed-up greenhouses, the supports, the improvised paths, the compost heaps, let alone the lovingly home-grown produce. Edwina Sassoon has made brilliant use of all these in the images which form a major part of the brand-new book 'Three Year Allotment Notebook' by Joanna Cruddas (Frances Lincoln, £12.99). Allotmenteers are a resourceful bunch and there are plenty of ideas to copy in these pictures, as well as monthly To Do lists compiled by the author and space for your own notes.